Medicare Turns 51

In less than 15 years, Medicare will achieve the same age as some of the people it was designed to help. Signed into law on July 30, 1965, Medicare was intended to provide healthcare to all seniors over the age of 65, as well as to disabled individuals. At that time, 30 percent of America’s seniors lived below the poverty level and half were uninsured because private insurers considered the risk to be too large. The original Medicare program included Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). These days, only two percent of older Americans lack health insurance, and nine million disabled Americans who receive Social Security also have health coverage through Medicare. It provides free preventive health screenings, prescription drug coverage through Part D (Prescription Drug Insurance), and greater health equity. A social insurance program funded by payroll taxes instead of the federal government, Medicare gives certain rights and protections to residents in certified nursing homes that are designed to:

  • Protect people when they get health care
  • Make sure people get the health care services that the law says they are entitled to
  • Protect against unethical practices
  • Protect privacy.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers several key federal health care programs including Medicare, created the Five-Star Quality Rating System to help consumers, their families, and caregivers to compare nursing homes. Each home is assigned one overall rating, one health inspection rating, one staffing rating, and one quality measure rating. As of July 15, 2016, Kentucky had 290 nursing homes rated in the database, and more than one-third of those had overall scores of only one or two stars. These are the worst ratings, representing below-average (two stars) or much-below-average (one star). Of the five Medicare-certified facilities in Pike County, two received one-star overall ratings, and one of those two has such a history of persistently poor quality of care that it has been flagged as a Special Focus Facility (SFF). SFFs are subjected to more frequent inspections, escalating penalties, and potential termination from Medicare and Medicaid. Yes, Signature Healthcare of Pikeville on South Mayo Trail is being closely watched by CMS due to repeated deficiencies in the care it provides its residents. Medicare’s birthday is an opportune time to raise awareness about the importance of improving low-rated nursing homes and providing our elderly with better, safer healthcare. No one should suffer an injury or a decline in their condition due to the care they have received at a nursing home.

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Since 1998, the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm has been the trusted advocate for countless personal injury victims and their families. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, or if you have more questions about this topic, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 606-437-4488 or filling out our online form.

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